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What to Do After an Earthquake

Caused by the shifting of tectonic plates beneath the earth’s surface, an earthquake is a release of energy that can cause seconds- or minutes-long tremors resulting in the shaking we feel.

Small earthquakes occur hundreds of times a day across the world, but they don’t often cause damage and most times go undetected. The earthquakes we often think of are large, topography-changing 6.0+-magnitude earthquakes that can instantly disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands.

Read on to learn what you should do to stay safe after an earthquake of any size.


Safety Measures to Take After an Earthquake

Stay safe after an earthquake with these tips:

  1. Expect aftershocks.
    An aftershock is a mini earthquake following the initial major shock. For the most part, larger earthquakes cause a higher number of strong aftershocks than smaller earthquakes.
    Aftershocks can sometimes cause other disasters, like tsunamis if the epicenter of the quake is on the sea or ocean floor. If you live on an island or a coastal area and have experienced an earthquake, consider moving to higher ground to keep safe.
  2. Check yourself and those around you for injuries.
    If you are able, help as much as possible. Do not move injured people unless they will be in danger if they remain where they are.
  3. Expert items to have shifted.
    Objects on tables, shelves or in closets will have likely shifted during the earthquake. Exercise caution in moving about to avoid injury from fallen objects.
  4. Stay away or remove yourself from damaged buildings.
    Buildings, especially those that are not designed with earthquake standards in mind, can be susceptible to damage from an earthquake. Structural damage, broken glass and falling materials can pose significant risks to those inside and nearby. If you suspect your building may have sustained damage during an earthquake, evacuate the building and move away from it until authorities can inspect it.
  5. If your home is unlivable, relocate to a local shelter.
    Don’t take the risk. If you feel like your home has become unstable or if you notice structural damage like large cracks in the walls or foundation, seek shelter in a safe location.
  6. Check your utilities for damage.
    Water pipes and gas and electrical lines are all susceptible to damage during an earthquake. Keep an eye out for broken water pipes, downed and live electrical lines and leaking gas lines. Gas leaks often cause fires to break out after an earthquake. Be on the lookout for small fires and extinguish them, if possible. Be vigilant.
  7. Check your home for structural damage/remember to:
    • Never light a fire inside your home
    • Turn on the radio for updates
    • Evacuate the area if you smell gas or other chemical fumes
    • Keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles and only drive your vehicle if necessary

Depending on the size of the earthquake, you may be without electricity, unable to drink the water and unsure of the integrity of gas lines. If the power is out, use a NOAA radio to wait for instructions from local emergency officials. Keep in mind that certain utilities may be unavailable after a natural disaster.

Choose Rainbow International for Help Recovering After Any Disaster

Need help restoring your home after an earthquake or other natural disaster? Choose Rainbow International. Our technicians are standing by 24/7 to help you recover after any disaster, big or small. Call 855-724-6269 for 24/7 disaster restoration.

Looking for more information about staying safe after an earthquake? Contact local emergency officials to learn about regional preparedness and check out this earthquake safety information from the American Red Cross.